MILWAUKEE — Even in the darkest of times, you can always find a light. A Milwaukee man discovered that as his mother was in treatment for cancer.
He’s proving it’s still true long after she died.
Every Friday Zack Ulickey heads over to Alfa Flower and Wedding Shop. He picks up two bouquets and drives them over to Froedert’s Cancer Center to give to patients there.
It’s a tradition that started with Terese, Zack’s mom.
“If she wasn’t in positive in a situation or wasn’t happy in a situation, she’d make somebody else happy,” Zack says.
But Zack says he wanted to make her happy during Terese’s fight with breast cancer. So he started raising money to make sure she had flowers for every chemo treatment.
“Before the end of the day we had almost $2,000,” Zack says. “We didn’t know what to do with everything, so we had to stop the fundraiser.”
For her first treatment, Zack and his brothers were able to buy Terese six bouquets. But Therese couldn’t bring herself to keep them all – she gave them away to other patients on the ward.
“We didn’t even know she was doing it the first time, so it was really cool that she kind of didn’t want so much for herself and wanted to spread it to other people,” Zack says.
Terese’s husband, Chet, says that’s just how she was.
“She had such a radiant personality,” he recalls. “I mean, she’d come into a room, and everyone would know she was there without saying a word. She was wonderful.”
So, it became a tradition for the rest of Terese’s treatments. Her boys would buy her two bouquets and she would give one away.
“She never stopped being that way, even through it all, she never really changed,” Zack says.
Terese passed away about two years after she started giving away her flowers. But the flowers keep coming.
Zack started Terese’s Flowers of Hope in 2019. And just like in the beginning, all the funds for the flowers are donated.
“She would be so happy I think,” he says. “She wouldn’t want her name on it, I know that. But she’d be really happy and she would be doing this every day, she’d be taking flowers in there if she could.”
It’s a way for Chet and Zack to stay close to Terese. And Chet says one of the most rewarding parts is hearing from the patients they deliver to.
“You know we recently got an email from one of the first recipients of flowers,” Chet says. “The biggest thing was, she’s now a year cancer free. And I mean, that’s the mission, that was the hope.”
And that’s really all the Ulickey’s need to run Terese’s Flowers of Hope forever.
“We have a lot of money and we’re ready to keep spreading some hope,” Zack says.